Why and how did you get into poly?

What type of poly origin did you have?

  • I've always had poly tendencies and never really took to monogamy

    Votes: 31 12.3%
  • I've always had poly tendencies and tried to be monogamous before

    Votes: 94 37.2%
  • I fell in love with a poly person and have adapted to the lifestyle

    Votes: 38 15.0%
  • I read or heard about someone else's poly experiences and thought it could work for me

    Votes: 30 11.9%
  • Other

    Votes: 60 23.7%

  • Total voters
    253

sage

New member
I can see how for people who identify as poly, being asked how they got that way is a much the same as asking someone who's gay how they got that way.

I don't identify as poly although if polyamory has a spectrum I probably sit somewhere in the middle, between poly and mono. When I was married I couldn't commit to my husband and played around (so did he). Therefore when I fell in love with a poly guy the idea of it didn't concern me. I thought I would just carry on the way I had been living, only honestly. What I didn't count on was that in a healthy loving relationship my desire for anyone but my partner dried up. His hasn't and this has caused some tribulations in our five year relationship.

I have tried poly relationships as a way to improve my acceptance and comfort in my partner's other relationships, but to date this hasn't helped, much. Recently he has started dating my sister and they have become very close. I'm wondering at this point if I have to stop loving my partner in such a mono way and so I'm giving poly a go again in an attempt to detach from him a little. I'm thinking that the way he needs to be loved and the way I love him are a little out of alignment.
 

sweetersong

New member
For us, we (or should I say I because at the moment he isn't interested in dating anyone else) got into Poly because of my sexuality. I am bisexual, I probably rate about 4 on the Kinsey scale (mainly homosexual but more than incidentially hetrosexual), I have no desire to leave my husband, I love him, but I do desire to date women , to find a woman I also feel that love for
 

Nadya

Member
I definitely did have philosophical reasons for becoming poly, and maybe those could count as "deeper reasons", but the suggestions on the list were quite far away.

I was raised in a cult, with little or no basic human rights. The teachings of the cult are... out there, and I was told that this cult is the only one on this earth to know the truth. When it finally appeared to me that their truth is a lie... I started searching for something real and sustainable in my life.

I have found polyamory to be a very sustainable and genuine way to have relationships. I can be totally honest, live according to who I am and respect myself as well as be respected. I can give my partners the freedom to express themselves truthfully. So my deepest reason for being poly is the wish to live honestly and openly.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Thanks for ridiculing me.

Some people don't like getting tied down. Why is this triggering your defenses?

Not sure why you're taking my comment personally when I was replying to Marcus. I wasn't ridiculing you, and it didn't trigger my defences. I don't use sarcasm as a defence mechanism, I use it when I'm LoLing.

In this case, I was LoLing at the concept that a person who doesn't like getting tied down would choose to form not one, but multiple loving, committed relationships concurrently.
 
In this case, I was LoLing at the concept that a person who doesn't like getting tied down would choose to form not one, but multiple loving, committed relationships concurrently.

This always makes me laugh too. The notion that multiplying romantic relationships results in freedom is so far from my world view that it always makes me laugh.
 

YouAreHere

Well-known member
To be fair, though, some folks do make it sound like having multiple relationships (for their partner) makes it less of a burden on them.

http://ltasex.info/home/what-poly-people-really-think-about-poly-relationships/2013/11/21

Some of the quotes here felt like, "When I get sick of being her boyfriend, he can come in and do the job." Like a tag-team wrestling match.

Maybe they meant that she could get the support of both partners, and it'd share the load a bit, but I read the quotes as more callous than loving, and articles like this are what help feed people's opinions.

The idea of "settling down" with "the one" also factors in, of course - if you're not dropping all partners but one, then you haven't "settled down" yet. Especially, I imagine, if you want to remain child-free. It doesn't follow the script.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
i'm sure there are infinite reasons for why, i just am interested in people that link a deeper dynamic to why.

Not to be a pain, but did you read the previous 30+ pages on this discussion prior to your re-asking the question? Also, this is an extremely common question and there are many topics on exactly this question (Golden Nuggets), not to mention the scores of personal stories in the Life Stories section.

Thanks for ridiculing me.

Some people don't like getting tied down. Why is this triggering your defenses?

Seems like you may have a little tunnel vision spicytictac. The examples in your list are 80% emotional baggage from trauma, so again I say, I wonder how monogamous people would feel about being asked about how they chose to be monogamous due to PTSD from one of the broken life experiences you mentioned. Do you think most of them would raise an eyebrow at the suggestion?

Also consider that not everyone is in a rush to get their psychotherapy taken care of on an anonymous internet forum.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
The idea of "settling down" with "the one" also factors in, of course - if you're not dropping all partners but one, then you haven't "settled down" yet. Especially, I imagine, if you want to remain child-free. It doesn't follow the script.

It's difficult for people to empathize. Most of the break down in communication between mono and poly folk seems to be due to this factor. I have been asked a number of questions from monos where they are trying to get poly to make sense in their current relationship worldview and it just can't work. I get the mono mindset more or less because I live in a mono society and most of my relationships were monogam-ish, but mono folk frequently have a lot of difficulty being able to frame their curiosities in a way that is even an answerable question. Most of the time my response is something like "I don't live in a world where that question makes any sense" and try to explain the vast crevasse between our thought processes.

This idea of "settling down" with "the one" is monogamous in nature and trying to have the conversation on that ground is going to leave someone frustrated.

It's the same with the posters list of childhood motivations for being poly. It is a list which doesn't make any sense to me at all and is a question framed by a strictly monogamous worldview and basically unanswerable.
 

KerryRen

New member
i was afraid i would make people defensive that i'm implying poly's are just fuck ups. that's not at all my intention. that's not my belief.

That is, however, what your list of possible reasons implied heavily.

i trauma bonded with a skateboard when i was 4. i have some preferences for what i want in life and i can trace many of those preferences back to certain events. not everyone can do that and that's fine.

Some people can, and choose not to. Knowing the origin of one's... idiosyncrasies doesn't necessarily help anything and can sometimes be harmful.

my husband can't explain to me why he loves horror movies and i get on his case about that.

And he doesn't get defensive about that? I would. Sometimes even if you know why you like something, you can't always articulate the words. Other times you may feel like giving an explanation will lead to judgement of said explanation -- not something a lot of people care to experience.

i strive to be an understanding person. one of my daughter's friends is transgendered and getting a sex op soon. i have lived in san francisco and olympia, wa during the early 90's when third wave feminism was in full effect. i'm trying to be real here.

Then perhaps you should try rephrasing your question into something a bit less loaded.
 
To be fair, though, some folks do make it sound like having multiple relationships (for their partner) makes it less of a burden on them.

http://ltasex.info/home/what-poly-people-really-think-about-poly-relationships/2013/11/21

True. I reckon that some people very much see things that way. Maybe for some people it is the case.

It seems to me that it's much more often the case that more serious relationships to balance means more work all round.

Plus - I don't see the people in my life as interchangeable in the same way as the people in that article seemed to. If I am missing one of my friends because we haven't seen much of each other, it's because I'm missing that particular person not because I'm lonely and any of my other friends would do just as well.

Having said all of that, I know that some folks have a hard time being alone and would much rather be with somebody than not. Maybe for those people poly does make things easier. Or at least makes it so that they have to spend less time alone?
 

vanquish

New member
Im going to defend spicytictac a little and agree tat not everyone chooses/is drawn to polyamory for healthy reasons. While spicy's initial list is a bit weighted towards the negative, and the analysis of "childhood trauma" is a bit pop psychology, it is only logical to admit that almost any behavior can have both healthy and dysfunctional causes.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Re (from spicytictac):
"Does anyone trace being poly back to
  • experiences from childhood,
  • family dynamics,
  • fear of never being enough,
  • boredom,
  • witnessing cheating parents,
  • fear of abandonment,
  • having lots of siblings, sharing parental love and liking the chaos of a family,
  • liking the endorphin rush of jealousy,
  • working out jealousy dynamics regarding siblings,
  • needing constant stimulation,
  • needing to be perceived as alternative to avoid vanilla status quo,
  • drama addiction,
  • commitment phobia,
  • wanting total freedom and wanting others to have total freedom,
  • liking to live on the edge?"

Can't tell if those are all meant to be childhood experiences; I'll just treat them as past experiences of various sorts:

  • experiences from childhood ... a few,
  • family dynamics ... doubtful,
  • fear of never being enough ... had this experience but doubt it was a factor in preparing me to be poly,
  • boredom ... libido yes, boredom no,
  • witnessing cheating parents ... no,
  • fear of abandonment ... had this experience a few times but doubt it was a factor in preparing me to be poly,
  • having lots of siblings, sharing parental love and liking the chaos of a family ... no I rather grew to dislike "family chaos,"
  • liking the endorphin rush of jealousy ... jealousy never arose (at least not until after I was practicing a poly life),
  • working out jealousy dynamics regarding siblings ... again non-issue,
  • needing constant stimulation ... no I'm actually not a fan of that,
  • needing to be perceived as alternative to avoid vanilla status quo ... eventually perhaps, yes, to a certain extent,
  • drama addiction ... um no I detest being any part of drama,
  • commitment phobia ... if I had this I had a strange way of showing it,
  • wanting total freedom and wanting others to have total freedom ... something to this effect, sure,
  • liking to live on the edge ... I've been known to mountaineer that way but in relationships I'd rather play it safe.
Re:
"Anyway, I have been launched into an almost obsession with personality types and alternative relationships and would really appreciate honest soul searching for the steps that led you on the polyamorous path."

Haven't I done so on this thread? Please challenge me on any points where you suspect I might not be honestly searching my soul for the steps that led me on the polyamorous path. I will respond with a renewed attempt to be honest.

I don't consider myself a polyamorist as "who I am." Polyamory is just a part of my life that I picked up along the way. If I have traveled any path in life, it is the one that leads from the conservative into the liberal.

Re (from Post #380):
"Some people can trace their origins for preferences and that's interesting to me."

Since I was raised in a strict household and taught to make enormous sacrifices for the church, I guess it could be argued that rebellion fomented in me until the lid blew off the pressure cooker. Which would make polyamory just one of many acts of rebellion.

Any specific questions anyone wants to ask me, I'll try my best to answer. I'm sure I'm not aware of all the reasons why I ended up adopting polyamory into my life, but the above paragraph explains it (read: the less-than-ideal reasons) the best as far as I know.
 

Tonberry

New member
I have three brothers and my parents were together the whole time I was growing up (they broke up when I was already in my 20s and had been poly for a while).

While I don't believe I was neglected or anything like that, I can see how growing up in a situation that required sharing and learning to deal with jealousy, as well as loving several people in the same way (two parents. Three siblings) could be considered good preparation for polyamory.

I don't think it made me polyamorous, but I think it probably made it easier to deal with the aspects of polyamory that are usually considered the hardest.

On the other hand, my husband in an only child raised by a single parent. You'd think it could "prepare him for monogamy" to have grown up loving just the one person and having a strong bond with just one person, etc. But he's poly, so people might be more likely to say "it's because he didn't get enough love as a kid so he's compensating" or whatever.

People can find retroactive explanations to pretty much anything, even if they're opposite. I think people are shaped by their experiences in ways that are not always clear. Even if you think "this probably is the cause" you might actually be completely off the mark.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I had quite a few siblings (four brothers, two sisters), so one could suppose that that taught me how to share, process jealousy, etc.

But I am convinced in my mind that the rebellion thing had much more to do with why I ended up practicing poly than anything else I can think of -- except the positive reasons, such as the desire to take hold of an opportunity to live in a new and enlightened way. It's not like I was trying to say "Screw you" to monogamists and the monogamous establishment, I was just trying to live in a way that I myself found more exciting and satisfying.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
You could flip that question on its head: what childhood or environmental experiences cause most people these days to be MONOGAMOUS?

We all share the experience of living in a monogamous culture. Until recently pretty much the only examples of non-monogamy were cheating (which is dishonest) and swinging (which is generally meant to be lust only/no feelings allowed).

So, it does take an act of rebellion, as Kevin said, to be polyamorous today. But sometimes there are compelling reasons to rebel about anything. For example, I rebelled against the parenting idea that feeding a baby formula is better/easier and just about as healthy for them as human milk feeding from the mother's breasts. And mainstream culture tells us, certainly no child should be fed from the breast past 6-12 months of age! However, I was exposed to evidence to the contrary. I know the worldwide age for weaning is 4 years. I went on to breastfeed my 3 children to 2 1/2-4 years of age.

So, I know humanity was not always monogamous (read the book *Sex at Dawn*), and in fact, monogamy and nuclear family life may not be the healthiest way to form relationships and support one another. The feeling of attraction I might have for more than one person at a time is natural, not bad, not caused by negative aspects of my childhood. On the contrary, I think my previous try at monogamy was somewhat unhealthy and unnatural.
 

sweetersong

New member
For example, I rebelled against the parenting idea that feeding a baby formula is better/easier and just about as healthy for them as human milk feeding from the mother's breasts. And mainstream culture tells us, certainly no child should be fed from the breast past 6-12 months of age! However, I was exposed to evidence to the contrary. I know the worldwide age for weaning is 4 years. I went on to breastfeed my 3 children to 2 1/2-4 years of age.

So, I know humanity was not always monogamous (read the book *Sex at Dawn*), and in fact, monogamy and nuclear family life may not be the healthiest way to form relationships and support one another. The feeling of attraction I might have for more than one person at a time is natural, not bad, not caused by negative aspects of my childhood. On the contrary, I think my previous try at monogamy was somewhat unhealthy and unnatural.

Good on you for BF'ing till they self weaned. I didn't manage BF with either child (a combination of my health and issues on their end making feeding harder) but am very pro BF and advocate of BF rights xx

And I wholly agree with your second paragraph. I wonder how much post natal depression (which I have had both times)would be lessened if there were more adults in the household than the traditional family, and come to think of it, if there were multiple women of child bearing age and one of you had a problem with BF, the other woman may possibly be able to BF , at least some of the time, giving rise to health benefits there too
 

KC43

New member
My reason for "choosing" to be poly is pretty similar to why someone might "choose" to be gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc.

It isn't a choice. It's how I'm wired. Always have been. Back in middle school when I read the "teen romances" with love triangles, I never understood why the girl couldn't have both guys. In high school, I watched friends do the serial monogamy thing (date a guy for a week, break up wtih him to date another guy, lather, rinse, repeat) and couldn't grasp why they didn't just tell the guys "Hey, I want to be with both of you, let's see if we can make that work." Same thing when I saw people--especially in my ex-husband's family--cheating on each other. If you can't commit to one person and stick with it, maybe there's an alternative to going behind their back and lying to them.

It isn't because of any deep-seated emotional trauma. It isn't because Daddy didn't love Mommy. It's because, to quote Lady Gaga, "I was born this way."

As for why I choose to *live* polyamory... In my opinion, someone can choose to live counter to their "hard-wiring." But it's usually painful and frustrating, and doesn't often end well. I forced myself to live monogamy most of my life because that's what our society expects and accepts. In some corners (e.g. my ex-husband's family), cheating is MORE acceptable than saying "I'm in love with two people and we've agreed to share and play nice."

But it never felt right. I dealt with it during my first marriage by pretty much completely shutting down emotionally and sexually. After I left that marriage, I had some time to explore, and I really liked not being locked in to ONE relationship with ONE person. That was what felt right to me. When I met Hubby, he wanted to be exclusive and I tried to force myself back into that monogamy box, but it wasn't easy and I felt trapped. Almost claustrophobic.

When I finally "came out" to Hubby as polyamorous, and admitted I'd developed feelings for Guy, who was supposed to be just a "friend with benefits", it was after a lot of soul-searching, a lot of reading and research, and a lot of making back-up plans in case he wasn't willing to accept me as I felt I truly was. Bless him, his immediate response was, "You don't love either of your kids more than each other, do you? And loving your kids doesn't take away from how much you love me. I don't think having Guy in your life is going to take away from how much you love me either. As far as I can see, you're bringing more love into the world, and how could I have a problem with that?"
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
Unfortunately, for most people in "side" relationships, they are not on the side at all, because any loving relationship is an important part or a central feature of someone's life. It's a shame that these human beings who have needs, desires, and issues of their own are just thought of as something on the side - as if you and your spouse are more important than anyone else.

Something about this rubs me the wrong way - and I'm trying to figure out what...

I think this "any loving relationship is an important part or a central feature of someone's life" This seems to imply that any relationship that ISN'T a central feature of someone's life isn't a relationship worth having, and I don't find this to be so in my personal experience. Not every relationship HAS to be "important" to the same degree - if the people in the relationship are happy and satisfied with the relationship as it exists.

My lover-friend(FWB) VV and I have maintained our relationship at roughly the same level for 20 years. We get together (or not) as time/geography/other relationships allow. Currently we live across the state from each other and see each other 0-2 times per year, in the past we have lived together or in close proximity. Either way we are happy to let our relationship be whatever it is at the time without having to somehow make it "more" than what it is. Do we love each other? I don't consider someone even a friend unless I "love" them to some degree - I'm unwilling to expend the effort to expend ANY energy maintaining any sort of relationship with someone I don't care a great deal about (I'm an introvert, if you didn't know :rolleyes:)

On another track - I love my family, they are wonderful, interesting, intelligent supportive people. I think that they are amazing...but I don't consider my familial relationships to be a "central feature" of my life. We get together for important events, are there for each other when needed but on a day-to-day basis we don't have much involvement in each other's lives. (If my mom hasn't heard from me in 3 months or so she will give a call or email to check-in and make sure that everything is OK.)

I'm right there with you on the couple-centric priority here. It can be myopic and self-centered. You've got a lot more history talking about this stuff than I do. That said, if these "side" people know and enthusiastically accept this relationship as ok/healthy/all they want for them, shouldn't that be ok? I can imagine that some people might say "I'm not looking for more than a casual thing and being lesser in priority than your husband is fine for me."

I think this was well said. Currently our configuration might be considered Vee-centric to some. Our core Vee functions as a household, we share a home and finances. Does this mean that no one can be as important in the future as the current people are? No. Lotus, a married woman, has been seeing us (as a group and individually) for 6 months. Is her relationship with any of us as "important" to her as her relationship with her husband of 8 years? I doubt it. Could it be in the future? Possibly. Does it have to? No.

For me, personally, the important part is that each individual relationship be "allowed" to evolve into whatever the people involved desire it to be - given the real-life limitations of time and distance and other commitments. That each relationship not be constrained by outside rules or pre-defined parameters of what it can/should be "allowed" to be.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Something about this rubs me the wrong way - and I'm trying to figure out what...

I think this "any loving relationship is an important part or a central feature of someone's life" This seems to imply that any relationship that ISN'T a central feature of someone's life isn't a relationship worth having, and I don't find this to be so in my personal experience. Not every relationship HAS to be "important" to the same degree - if the people in the relationship are happy and satisfied with the relationship as it exists.

I hear what you're saying. I just want to point out the subtle usage of the word "most."

Some people get into "consensual" side relationship, i.e. both people agree that it's not going to be a major part of their life, but something that can be picked up and dropped as convenient. But I think it's fair to say that "most" relationships are not like this. "Most" people who date someone in a couple aren't expecting to be treated as disposable.

My lover-friend(FWB) VV and I have maintained our relationship at roughly the same level for 20 years. We get together (or not) as time/geography/other relationships allow. Currently we live across the state from each other and see each other 0-2 times per year, in the past we have lived together or in close proximity. Either way we are happy to let our relationship be whatever it is at the time without having to somehow make it "more" than what it is. Do we love each other? I don't consider someone even a friend unless I "love" them to some degree - I'm unwilling to expend the effort to expend ANY energy maintaining any sort of relationship with someone I don't care a great deal about (I'm an introvert, if you didn't know :rolleyes:)

20 years with some degree of "love" and you don't consider it to be an "important" relationship at all?
 
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